A 1996 book by Jon Krakauer, based on a 1993 article he wrote for Outside Magazine.
In the summer of 1992, the body of Chris McCandless was found in the wilderness of Alaska. McCandless, 24, had apparently starved to death after spending the winter and spring living in an abandoned public transit bus. A journal was found near his body.
Using the journal, Krakauer set out to figure out what drives McCandless and others like him to live at the fringes of society. After graduating from Emory University, McCandless gave away most of his possessions and $24,000 of his life savings, then drove to the southwest, where he abandoned his car in the desert, burned all of his remaining cash, and renamed himself Alexander Supertramp.
After traveling on foot and hitchhiking through the southwest, McCandless eventually heads north in search of the kind of adventure that's not available in the lower 48. Krakauer retraces the journey, talking to people McCandless met on the way.
In his journal, McCandless writes about his desire for adventure, and a deep need to experience the wilderness like Jack London or John Muir. He clearly wants to test himself, to find some kind of meaning in looking death in the face and living by his wits. McCandless' failure at this test, in the end, was tragic and avoidable.
Krakauer feels a tremendous affinity for McCandless, and has similar motivations. After spending an entire obsessive year researching this book, however, it turns out that his level of introspection isn't enough to prevent him from traveling down the same road, and experiencing an even greater tragedy which he chronicles in Into Thin Air.